CBN Bars UBA, FCMB, Union Bank, Others from SME Forex Window
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
All but eight banks operating in Nigeria have been barred from dealing in the SME wholesale forex window by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This punishment came following persistent complaints that some deposit money banks (DMBs) have deliberately frustrated efforts by many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access forex from the new window created by the central bank recently.
According to PR Nigeria, the financial regulator took the decision to bar the erring banks based on field reports, which revealed that only eight banks had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window.
This development, it was gathered, infuriated the apex bank, leaving it with no other option than to bite hard on the erring financial institutions.
It was learnt that the alleged actions of the banks has made it impossible for small business owners from importing eligible finished and semi-finished items into the country despite the availability of forex from the CBN wholesale intervention window, which in turn has further frustrated efforts by the government to turn the fortunes of Nigeria around.
According to the CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Isaac Okorafor, all banks that had refused to sell forex to the SME actors after accessing over $300 million offered to the SMEs wholesale forex window since its creation last month will be sanctioned accordingly.
Checks showed that the affected banks include Ecobank Nigeria, First Bank of Nigeria, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), Skye Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria (UBA), United Bank for Africa (UBA) and others.
The CBN spokesman listed the banks not barred to include Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank and Zenith Bank.
Mr Okorafor warned that the CBN would not sit back and allow any form of instability in the interbank forex market through the actions of institutions or individuals.
He therefore urged all stakeholders to play by the rules for the benefit of the entire country and its economy.